Friday, August 5, 2011

My Vision of the Future part 2

It is sad, but science is often driven by war. Many of the common things that everyone uses everyday, from the internet to GPS, are products of military technology. In a way though, it sort of goes a little way in making up for the loss of life. Because it isn't likely that mankind will stop having wars anytime soon, we must factor in military research as a mode for future scientific advances. Imagine what will happen once we figure out the whole interstellar travel problem. The benefit to colonizing another earth-like planet would be enormous, and thus governments will do it. An interstellar land grab might ensue, and it wouldn't be much of a stretch to imagine wars in space. In the beginning of this land grab, space ships would probably be largely unshielded and certainly wouldn't have any weapons, but as different nations begin to fight over particularly valuable planets, being able to take down your opponents space ship will be a major advantage. When the first ship goes down there will be a mad scramble to weaponize, producing armored spaceships with any number of weapons for taking out other ships or destroying other countries colonies or military bases. At least one such weapon has already been proposed, Rods from God. These are basically tungsten rods that can be fired at a planets surface. Because there is no resistance in space, these rods can reach amazing speeds until they hit their target with the strength of a tactical nuke, no radiation involved.
Rods from God

There are quite a few people who think that humans should not colonise other planets, and I can see the validity in their arguments. Some people don't think that we should focus on it now because we have too many problems here on earth, and they have a good point. Others, however, don't think that we should colonize other planets for reasons of morality. Their argument is that we would just destroy life on that planet like we are doing on our own planet, even more extreme, I have heard it argued that humans are just bad, and thus shouldn't be spread any farther than they have to be. I disagree. To the destruction of life part, yes, I do fear that we might begin mining a life supporting planet and wreak havoc upon its inhabitants. This scenario would be bad, I do admit, but if we have the technology to traverse the stars, why wouldn't we just mine material from lifeless planets? It seems likely that we wouldn't destroy a planets natural inhabitants for resources, by then we won't have to. In the beginning, we would probably try to find planets that could already sustain human life, but we will eventually begin terraforming. This blows away the argument of destroying life. Instead of killing things, we are actually creating life on a lifeless planet. We could finally become life givers. The other argument that humans are bad and should be destroyed is kind of scary. We don't know that we aren't the only intelligent species in the universe, so I feel that we have an obligation not to die out. If our planet did turn out to be the only one that supported life, we might as well spread that life. The universe doesn't care what life does, the universe is lifeless matter, only life cares what life does. Ultimately, if we do not leave Earth or the solar system, we will die out. One catastrophe could destroy the entire human race. If nothing else, our sun will eventually expand and heat up the surface of our planet the point where we couldn't survive, long before it goes nova.
Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own

The argument that we should focus more on earthly problems is actually very valid. There are constant economic crises and natural disasters plaguing the earth, and we do have to deal with these things. But I ask you, which is more important, the war in Afghanistan, or NASA? More than thirty-eight times as much money is spent on the U.S. military than is spent on NASA. Society is basically one crisis after another. If you argue that we should wait until there are no more problems before we start investing in space exploration, then we may never invest in space exploration. Every society has to deal with one problem after another, so the only way that we will get anywhere in this universe is if we find the time and money to develop technologies for terraforming and exploration.
Nasa's budget versus the U.S. military budget

Stay tuned for part 3.

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